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Saturday, 1 September 2012

Improving the beasts: Vintage V100s Part 3

Right, on with part three of the improving the Vintage V100s!
Firstly before starting any work on a nice shiny guitar we need some protection for the finish. A slipped screwdriver or some stray molten solder can wreak havoc, so better safe than sorry. There are lots of different ways of doing this … but mine uses a couple of layers of low-tack 2” masking tape. It’s easy and fast to apply, protects against most things, and peels without leaving residue. My workbench has a folded pad of material (some old red drape – a souvenir from the Royal Albert Hall) to protect the instrument, and the neck is supported in a foam cradle.
Right off with the lid to see the rubbish within Iced T’s innerds

Not even as pretty as Tobacco’s!  Puny wiring and pigeon-poo soldering … yuck. The switch compartment was similarly nasty!
Someone seems to have had a hole drilling party here oddly. Only three are used to mount the cover!

First Job: the pots: 500k, 2 logarithmic taper for the volume, and two linear taper for the tone. Others may argue and say Log for everything … I quite like log for tone … and it’s my guitar okay?
I punch some holes in cardboard in the pattern of the mounting holes in the guitar top and assemble the bulk of the harness on the bench … NOT IN THE GUITAR! Why? Because there’s bugger all room in a Les Paul wiring compartment , and the depth of the rout makes it tough to see what you’re doing at the bottom. Much better out where the dog can see the rabbit!

Note: I’ve used some cloth insulation stripped off my stock of ‘hookup’  wire on the capacitor legs. Belt and braces really … a lot of people wouldn’t bother, but if one of those legs grounds out to that ‘earth bus’ that links the pots, there’ll be trouble and things won’t work properly!
There’s a great deal of bollocks talked about paper in oil capacitors and how smooth and vintage they sound … mostly it’s talked by those who want to sell you ‘vintage’ capacitors! Simply get a good cap (in this case .22uf Sprague Orange Drops)  and save your money. There is no detectable difference between vintage and modern high quality caps … end of story.
Right out come the Wilkinson humbuckers 

note the protection for the body
I’m going to be re wiring with proper, fifties style single conductor screened cable (Allparts UK) and it will be a tight squeeze getting it through those wiring tunnels! 
Three long lengths go from the switch compartment to the control compartment … measure thease carefully using the old wiring as a pattern!

I’m keeping the original switch for the time being … it works fine, and as I said before … this is on a budget.
There is an old fifties knack to parting the braid neatly on this type of cable … my dad was an old fifties engineer and taught me:
First kink your wire

Then use your nails or a non-metallic instrument to gently part the braids on the apex of the ‘kink’

Then using a small pointed tool - I use an old multi meter probe - pull the ‘tail' of wire out through your newly made hole 

Like so … lovely and neat … and period correct!

That’s about all I have room for here …

See you in part 4 where I put it all together!

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